12 Aug 2013

Meridian reports profit of $295m

8:11 pm on 12 August 2013

Government-owned power company Meridian Energy has lifted its annual net profit nearly four-fold to $295 million.

That includes a pre-tax gain of $101 million from the sale of its stake in the Macarthur windfarm in Australia. However, it doesn't include the $476 million Meridian has had to write off the value of its generation assets as a result of the renegotiated deal with the owners of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

At the operating level, profit rose 22.7% to $584.8 million, while sales were up 5.5% to $2.7 billion. Retail customer numbers fell 5.3% to 272,077 compared with a year earlier, with customers of the Meridian brand dropping 7.8% to 220,806. However, customers of its Powershop brand rose 7.1%.

Meridian chief executive Mark Binns said he was pleased with the results, and the company had shown its resilience in the face of last summer's drought, the Tiwai negotiations and the preparations for the sale of 49% of the company's shares and stock exchange listing.

Shares are expected to be listed on the stock exchange by the end of the year.

"This year has been a vast improvement on 2009 in terms of all financial metrics," he said.

The company paid the Government $252 million in dividends for the 12 months to the end of June, $89 million more than its underlying earnings of $163 million and up from the $71 million it paid in dividends the previous year.

Mr Binns said the payout to the Government included most of the profit from selling the Macarthur windfarm.